Lawyers’ Collective founder Anand Grover argued the case that eventually led to the Delhi High Court decriminalising consensual homosexual sex. He said the ruling is set to spark a sea change in society.
What changes have you observed since the ruling?
Initially, many people were not aware that all forms of so-called unnatural sex were criminal, but over time they realised the stupidity of the law. By 2009, public opposition to the petition was limited, and the challenges today come from small groups who don’t represent society at large.
The case received criticism for bringing HIV risks into the argument. Was it necessary?
Initially, it was hard to get even a single gay person or organisation to sign the petition. So, we approached NAZ Foundation, which works in the field of HIV/AIDS, through which the petition was eventually filed. Using the HIV argument was important because it is in the state’s interest to cut risks of contracting HIV. If the state were to intervene in consensual sexual activities of homosexuals, activists would not be able to openly advocate safe sex or distribute condoms to them, and HIV risks would rise. However, we brought all other human rights arguments to court as well — equality, privacy and gender.
Where is the battle now
Police harassment has reduced and homosexuals cannot be jailed. But social stigmas will take a long time to disappear. We have to now make sure the judgement is upheld in the Supreme Court, for which we need unity among all people. Those who think this is not a battle of the non-LGBT community have the wrong idea.